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Home > Part 6
Yumi: The Japanese Long-Bow
Part 6 of 9

Burning arrows were used to carry fire into the enemy's stronghold. The ya-bumi, was a message arrow constructed for long flight; the shaft was painted white to attract attention. The poisoned arrow, still used by the Ainos of Yeisso, was prohibited by the rules of war, as was also the barbed arrow.

This last mentioned weapon was excessively cruel, the barbed point, being but loosely attached to the shaft, became detached upon penetrating the flesh and the point to be removed must be cut out. All their arrow-heads were of exquisitely wrought steel, perfectly tempered, and in some instances engraved or beautifully inlaid with precious metals. Many famous makers were of the Daimioate of Echizen, notably of Takebu, and the excellence of their vicious steel points lives now in the superior quality of their domestic cutlery, to which use their forges have been put since the adoption of western civilization.

Arrows often bore the name of their owner, that the enemy might know to whom they were indebted for a skillful shot. In one of the many battles between the Taira and Minamoto, the arrow of a certain bowman named Hachiro was found in the death wound of Hyoda, Taira's greatest warrior.

That Hachiro might be honored among his brother warriors the fatal shaft was returned to the Minamoto camp. When brought before the Shogun, Hachiro was not to be outdone in chivalry, and, after expressing satisfaction that his arrow had slain the powerful Hyoda, refused the proffered honor, saying it was but a random shot in the thick of the battle, and he would accept no reward for the chance that had caused his arrow to pierce the neck of so distinguished a man as Hyoda.

We have found no evidence that the Japanese Cupid was armed with bow and a quiver of love darts, yet that the arrow at times bore a message of love seems certain from a legend connected with a temple in the tea district of Uji.

A maiden named Hime was strolling by a secluded stream; a red arrow winged with duck feathers floated towards her, she picked it up and carried it home. It was a message of love, she gave birth to the god still worshiped.

The quiver, ya bokuro, especially for the common bowman, was a light affair of bamboo and paper, slung diagonally across the back. For the rich or renowned warrior, it was often an elaborate but clumsy case of horse or deer skin dyed black

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